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Oz the Great and Powerful
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Disney’s fantastical adventure Oz The Great And Powerful, from the director of the Spider-Man trilogy,follows Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics. When Diggs is hurled away to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot — until he meets three witches (Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams), who aren’t convinced he’s the great wizard everyone’s expecting. Reluctantly drawn into epic problems facing Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it’s too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity — and even some wizardry — Oscar transforms himself into the great wizard and a better man as well.
For sheer visual splendor, Oz the Great and Powerful is hard to beat. Even before the hot-air balloon of carnival magician Oscar "Oz" Diggs (James Franco) gets swept up in a tornado and hurled to the Technicolor land of Oz, the sepia tones of Kansas have a lush, almost velvety texture. Once Diggs arrives in Oz, he learns of a prophecy that he might be the wizard to free the land from the grips of a tyrannical witch--and from there, the movie juggles visual delights with a story that is regrettably half-baked. Some sequences and characters are skillfully realized (a little girl made of china is perfectly developed, both visually and narratively), while others seem propped up like cardboard cutouts. (Unavoidable comparisons to The Wizard of Oz, a masterpiece of vividly drawn characters, don't help.) Franco doesn't have the theatricality one might want for a carnival huckster, but fortunately his low-key performing style helps to ground the bright spectacle in human emotions. As witches wicked and good, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams all display charm and verve. The movie is flawed, but when Oz the Great and Powerful hits a right note, merging wonder and fear, dazzle and darkness, it's easy to forgive the weaknesses. --Bret Fetzer
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The black and white intro: For those viewing on a small screen, I can imagine your frustration. I agree with the other posters and do your best to get past the intro, the rest of the movie is well worth it. I don't mean to suggest the intro is not worth watching, I was just addressing the people with small screens. The black and white is detail rich, and equally balances with tone, texture and visual appeal. The stark contrast from black and white to color gives even more emphasis to the color once it begins.
The actors: The cast is well chosen. James Franco, the Oz, is suppose to an annoying con-man with little redeeming quality and I found Franco fits this role perfectly. Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis were great as the three witches, with Mila Kunis giving a great preformance. Honestly, I didn't think she had it in her.
The storyline: The story is about how the Great Oz became the Great Oz and how the Wicked Witch Of The West became wicked. The background of all three witches are presented in a basic way. Done as a prequel, the story blends both old and new well.
Cinematography: This is where the movie shines, or more appropriately, glows. When the black and white part ends and the color starts, each scene is like a work of art. I felt like a little kid watching the screen. All that color. I think Raimi's intent was to mirror what those viewers of the first techicolor movie must have experienced. This movie is meant for high definition and the big screen but even at 720p, my viewing experience was amazing. I wish I could view it in a theater.
There is no bad language, no nekkid people, a couple of fight scenes (actors land very hard after being hit by magic) and a few scary, flying monkies. There is a big tornado scene. The Wicked Witch does threaten to eliminate all the good people. However, the good vs evil is well balanced with good triumphing in the end.
If you are one of those people that could care less about nostalgia and just want to see a high action movie with a lot of special graphics, this movie is not for you. This movie is meant to reflect the original, almost a period piece with some enhanced graphics. I feel many teenagers and some of the 20-30/something crowd will not appreciate it. However, for me, I feel Raimi hit a home run with this gem.
Feel the magic of ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ surround you as it soars off the screen and lands in your living room in this spectacular and stunning awesome 3D Blu-ray – the absolute best you can get to view in your home.
Disney’s fantastical adventure, from the director of the ‘Spider-Man’ trilogy, follows Oscar Diggs [James Franco], a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics. When Oscar Diggs is hurled away to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot – until he meets three witches [Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams], who aren’t convinced he’s the great wizard everyone’s expecting. Reluctantly drawn into epic problems facing Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar Diggs must find out who is good and who is evil before it’s too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity – and even some wizardry – Oscar Diggs transforms himself into the great wizard and a better man as well.
Cast: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Bill Cobbs, Joey King, Tony Cox, Stephen R. Hart, Abigail Spencer, Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi, Tim Holmes, Toni Wynne, Rob Crites, William Dick, Gene Jones, John Lord Booth III, Suzanne Keilly, Shannon Murray, Ralph Lister, John Manfredi, Robert Stromberg, Channing Pierce, Brian Searle, Russell Bobbitt, Brandon Hamilton, Stevie Lee, Mike Estes, Phillip Huber, Chidi Ajufo, Talia Akiva, Blake Arnold, Cameron Barnett, Wayne Brinston, Colin Bryant, Ron Causey, Justin Chrzanowski, Michael Clossin, Zachary Robert Craft, Omar Diop, Neil Ellice, John C. Epperson, Vi Faulkner, Logan Fry, Derrick Gilliam, Jacob Godzak, Brice Harris, Hans Ihlenfeldt, Alexander Christopher Jones, Roy Kellerman Jr., Dennis Kleinsmith, Bob Jay Mills (uncredited), Jordan Rafael (uncredited), Ari Rufino (uncredited), Keith Schloemp (uncredited), David Schwager (uncredited), Stephen Tako (uncredited), Kevin Thompson (uncredited), David Waldman (uncredited), Filip Watermann (uncredited), Michael O. Watkins (uncredited), Matt Weinglass (uncredited), Jake Williams (uncredited) and Otis Winston (uncredited)
Director: Sam Raimi
Producers: Debbi Bossi, Grant Curtis, Joe Roth, Joshua Donen, K.C. Hodenfield, Palak Patel, Philip Steuer, Tamara Watts Kent and W. Mark McNair
Screenplay: David Lindsay-Abaire, Mitchell Kapner and Frank L. Baum (original story)
Composer: Danny Elfman
Cinematography: Peter Deming
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 [Black-and-White] and 2.40:1 [Colour]
Audio: English: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital, English: 5.1 Dolby Digital and English: 2.0 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
Running Time: 130 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Sam Raimi's epic fantasy prequel conjures up a new benchmark for 3D Blu-ray. Given the reverence so many fans have for the legendary 1939 M-G-M musical, it's no surprise that some consider any plans to do a prequel to ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to be completely sacrilegious.
But somehow writer David Lindsay-Abaire and Michael Kapner and director Sam Raimi have managed to magic up a dizzying and manically inventive fantasy film that feels like a natural part of the universe Frank L. Baum created. By exploring the origin of the Wizard, this blockbuster prequel feels fresh and unpredictable, whilst also delivering plenty of nods and winks for fans of the original film, especially the Frank L. Baum's books.
More delightful is the film's 3D presentation, which actually makes for a very entertaining experience. Though built on the backs of endless 3D gimmicks, there's a delirious energy to all the carnivorous plants, dive-bombing monkeys, surging rapids, toothy river fairies, jutting emerald crystals, and billowing fireballs to thoroughly demonstrate Sam Raimi's penchant for 3D showmanship. The camera leaps and swoops, glides and falls; the creatures of Oz charge and lunge, pounce and attack; cities and towns loom and extend into the distance, while endless fields of flowers, dark forests and sprawling mountain ranges disappear into the horizon. What Oz the Great and Powerful lacks in cohesion and inspiration, it tacks on with feverish, sometimes dizzying 3D, and it's clear that Sam Raimi's Oz was built to take full advantage of the format, from the ground up. The added assault on the senses even distracts from some of the film's bigger problems, making its 2D counterpart feel even flatter and less whimsical. Is the 3D version of the film the wonderful wizard Disney and the filmmakers hoped it would be? Perhaps in part, but it still falls short. It may take a sequel to prove Sam Raimi and company truly have something up their sleeves.
Buoyed by game performances from all the principals and Sam Raimi's energetic direction, ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ is a fun slice of fantastical whimsy wrapped up in dazzling layers of 3D eye-candy. So, even if it doesn't really measure up to the original, it's still a whole lot of magical and exciting fun.
Blu-ray Video Quality – Step aside ‘AVATAR’ there is a new king of 3D Blu-ray. Disney's stunning awesome encoded stereoscopic presentation of ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ 3D not only sets a new technical benchmark for the format – the native 3D photography is so involving that it easily makes the film more enjoyable that the 'flat' version. The sheer depth of the image and the volume dimensions of everything is frankly totally awe-inspiring. Nothing about it feels forced, it just feels perfectly natural. Colour presentation is probably the most vibrant I have seen in a 3D presentation and fills the widescreen 2.40:1 at all times, at least it does from Chapter 8 when the action moves to Oz, prior to that it's 1.33:1 black-and-white. ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ 3D 1080p imagery is truly magical.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The 3D presentations of the film are accompanied by what Disney is openly touting as a 'near-field' 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This indicates that the mix has been optimised for 'smaller' environments – but don't worry, this is something that Disney has apparently done with a lot of its mixes in the past, albeit without the labelling and, as it happens, ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ 7.1 channel soundtrack is a match for the reference-quality visuals. Admittedly, things start in a rather subdued mode, with the audio accompanying the monochrome opening being deliberately wedded to the front stereo spread. However, once our hero is sucked up by the tornado in Chapter 7 the full 7.1 mix explodes into life. Front and rear speakers are employed aggressively and consistently from that point onwards, building layer upon layer of audio in the sound field to dynamic effect.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras: The 3D version contains no supplements whatsoever on the Blu-ray disc itself. Supplements can only can be accessed through the Digital Copy Plus version of the film.
Special Feature: Walt Disney and the Road to Oz [Digital Copy Plus] [10:00] The studio and Uncle Walt's history with Oz, which traces back to the 1930s (when Snow White hinted at the success of feature fantasy), Disney's acquisition of the rights to fourteen Oz books, an abandoned 1950s musical adaptation (The Rainbow Road to Oz), and other milestones on the long and winding road to ‘Oz the Great and Powerful.’
Special Feature: My Journey in Oz, by James Franco [Digital Copy Plus] [22:00] This sort of a-day-in-the-life video journal is more of a James Franco-hosted production documentary than anything else, and that's perfectly fine. James Franco does everything from discussing the film to interviewing Sam Raimi to going behind-the-scenes to reveal how practical and visual effects were used to realise Oz.
Special Feature: China Girl and the Suspension of Disbelief [Digital Copy Plus] [5:00] Oz's porcelain doll springs to life by way of on-set marionettes, computer wizardry and the voice performance of young actress Joey King.
Special Feature: Before Your Very Eyes: From Kansas to Oz [Digital Copy Plus] [11:00] The design, development and creation of the lands of Oz the Great and Powerful, from the film's visual aesthetic to its costumes, sets, environments, locations and grand vistas.
Special Feature: Metamorphosis [Digital Copy Plus] [8:00] Sam Raimi and company bring the Wicked Witch to sinister, cackling life with prosthetics that simultaneously accentuate, sharpen and mask the actress's facial features.
Special Feature: Mr. Elfman's Musical Concoctions [Digital Copy Plus] [7:00] Composer Danny Elfman and the film's score.
Special Feature: Bloopers [Digital Copy Plus] [5:00] Franco, Braff, Kunis and the rest of the cast ham it up.
Finally, ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ 3D never ascends to the heights of the original ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and unfortunately a lot of critics of this 3D Blu-ray say that is certainly won't ever be hailed as a timeless classic, but to me it is a beautiful modern day classic of the original masterpiece in cinema history. So it will be totally wrong to give this 2013 film comparison, is almost totally unfair, but sadly a lot of critics are all unfairly in precisely doing that comparison, which is totally out of order and makes me very angry and totally incensed, as it is a totally beautiful well-crafted film and especially in 3D, whereas the 2D looks totally flat, that is a must to view in 3D. Another thing that is making me so angry is the comments of critics of this marvellous film, saying that nothing quite clicks into place [rubbish] especially the script, the cast, the visual effects, which to my mind is a very harsh comment and have obviously been watching a different film to me. On top of all that I feel Sam Raimi eventually finds his footing with ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ 3D and hits a decent stride and finishes poised hopefully, for a sequel. The 3D version is even better and is a honestly a very exciting experience. Walt Disney's Blu-ray release is more consistent and satisfying experience of this film, and with an excellent video transfer, especially the terrific sumptuous 3D experience, and a very exciting strong 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround track. The 3D edition's extras are only available by way of Disney's new Digital Copy Plus online service, so that's a rather irritating hassle, but at least the content is still available in one way or another. All told, ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ 3D is a great and powerful prequel it could be, but it’s the Blu-ray debut and 3D AV awesome presentation, unite to become a formidable powerhouse. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom